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Universal Basic Income and Gender

One important area for debaters to explore on the universal basic income topic is the relationship between UBI and the promotion of gender equality.

There are a number of reasons a UBI could promoted gender equality.

First, UBI enables women to leave abusive relationships, because they will have income to rely on if they need to leave.

Amelia Womack is deputy leader of the Green Party, March 17, 2018,   How a universal basic income could help women in abusive relationships

There are no easy solutions. But there are bold ideas which might help women, like a universal basic income (UBI) to give financial independence. According to research by Women’s Aid, one in five women interviewed said they couldn’t leave an abusive relationship because they had no money of their own, and the same number said financial abuse had left them unable to manage money. Meanwhile, research by Shelter found almost half of homeless women say domestic violence has contributed to their homelessness. Last week, Theresa May unveiled plans to protect women under the Government’s new Domestic Abuse Bill. The promise to legally recognise economic and other forms of non-physical abuse is very welcome. The Green Party has long championed a UBI, which is a non-means tested payment for every citizen, providing the essential financial support we all need. The benefits of UBI have been well discussed; from rewarding unpaid work to giving people opportunity and options in a fast changing world, it would transform society. But UBI would also transform life for women. By giving everyone financial independence, UBI would ensure no woman is ever dependent on her partner to meet her basic needs. And for those in abusive relationships, one of the barriers against leaving would be removed. Unlike benefits or wages, UBI payments would be attached to and follow individuals, irrespective of life circumstances or employment status. For women leaving an abusive relationship, there would be no endless forms or waiting for benefit payments in order to access financial help. The UBI payments would still be there, as they always had been. As well as being practically liberating, this would psychologically free women to even think about leaving in the first place. Recent research by Refuge and the Co-op bank found 60 per cent of adults in Britain who have experienced financial or economic abuse were women. Of course, financial abuse takes many forms and does not always go hand in hand with dependency. Perpetrators are adept at manipulating survivor’s income and resources, and there is still the risk that an abusive partner could exploit and misuse this independent income. But in relationships where there is control and abuse of money, UBI payments would be distinct in that they are attached to the individuals. Women’s centres and refuges could be equipped to assist women in ensuring that when they leave a relationship, their UBI payments leave with them. Enabling women to independently rebuild their lives should be at the core of domestic abuse policy. UBI could help survivors escape with guaranteed income that could ultimately help them find a new home – or even just provide train fare money to friends or family. In 21st century Britain, we can reimagine how the system works to ensure no woman is trapped in an abusive relationship because she can’t afford to leave.

Second, it means that many women do not have to rely on sex work and will not be vulnerable to sex trafficking. Women who previously worked in the sex industry are often not able to access welfare because of moral standards and bureaucracy

Rae Story worked in the sex industry for a decade, March18, 2017, Breaking the vicious circle: Basic Income and sexual exploitation,

If a woman is told by her abuser or her pimp — or by the propaganda of living in prostitution — that she could not survive without them, that voice is solidified by the material experience of structural inequality that poor women suffer. The crossroads between class and sex-based oppression is, indeed, best exemplified by a woman having to make a daily decision between sexual or domestic abuse, and poverty. So if our toxic situation has been the source of our “income” — in exchange for domestic, reproductive or sexual labour — what do we do if we want to leave? Refuge recommends that women escaping abusive or exploitative situations should seek out emergency accommodation from friends or family, but often abuse victims have been systematically disenfranchised from such social support and, as with high numbers of women in prostitution, have come through the care system, many didn’t have it in the first place. Women’s refuges are suffering from closures and on average 155 women are turned away each day, according to Women’s Aid. Shockingly, women escaping domestic violence are not automatically considered in priority need for social housing. That is even before you even get to prostitutes; an even less likely group to be considered a “worthy” cause. Indeed, our current welfare system is based on nebulous arbitrations of “need” and “worthiness,” which are often further gunned through the dubious prism of abstract bureaucracy. The Conservative government has seemingly decided that it cannot trust the word of doctors in assessing someone’s capacity for work and so subject often extremely vulnerable people to further “assessments.” Women who have been in prostitution or domestic violence often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological fragilities. For them these processes can be intimidating, due to the fear of being judged, blamed and dismissed as “undeserving.” This is even before we even get to the trials of unemployment benefit, not available to anyone whose partner works more than 24 hours per week — not much good if said partner has a predilection for controlling every aspect of your life. And if you’re under 35 and have no children you cannot suddenly decide to no longer submit to unwanted sex with men you don’t know, because you are not eligible for housing benefit contributions for your apartment. Or because you cannot find another job, due to your lack of experience or your anxiety, or both. Yes, I’ve seen many a woman make her Great Escape from abuse only to find her road blocked at every turn. Back she goes, to her hard fisted boyfriend or her brothel pimp — now more vulnerable and more convinced of the absolutenesses of her “destiny.” What is the first thing a woman escaping violence needs? To not have to “explain herself” to society — to beg even — to get the ticket out of her situation. Because asking such people to make the case for their right to freedom from abuse is an extension of that abuse. She has already had to try to explain to her “lover” why he should allow her to sleep safe that night, or to her pimp why she cannot work because her vagina has become torn and bruised. The idea behind UBI is that every member of society gets a basic monthly amount, irrespective of their social circumstances or their assumed worthiness. I am not going to make a more general case forUBI, as those arguments can be found elsewhere. However, it has instigated the twitching of my feminist ear because as a policy it has, under the right conditions, the potential to give victims of domestic violence and sexual exploitation a slightly easier out. In the 1970s there were a lot of debates about whether or not women should receive wages for housework, but many feminists felt that this would crystallise the idea that domesticity was women’s work. UBI on the other hand is a basic economic sustenance that is paid to a woman by virtue of her humanity, not her femininity, which is in any case a social imposition demanding of her submissive agreeableness. Of course UBI is not the full answer to the question of women’s exploitation. But because it does not require women to be the perfect victims, it is at least starting to ask the right questions.

Third, women are more likely to be poor and a UBI will empower them and allow them to restructure their lives and avoid the stigma of welfare

Jessica Flannigan, 1-25, 18, Slate, The Feminist Case for a Universal Basic Income,

Here are the top three reasons UBI is a feminist cause:

  1. 1. Women Are More Likely to Be Poor Globally, women are more likely to live in extreme poverty than men. In the United States, women as a group are poorer than men due to the economic burdens associated with caregiving and the segregation of women into “pink-collar” industries that typically pay less than male-dominated industries. One of the main benefits of implementing a UBI in the U.S. and elsewhere is that giving people cash is a relatively direct and effective way to fight poverty. The basic income is also a matter of economic justice for women as a whole. While capitalism has been beneficial to women on balance, the current system reflects historical patterns of female exclusion from labor markets and policies that denied property rights to women. For example, throughout the 19th century and into the 20th century, married women lacked legal protections for their property rights under the legal doctrine of coverture. And until the 1980s, husbands retained unilateral control over marital property in some jurisdictions. As I have argued elsewhere, a UBI would make capitalism more just by compensating those who live with the legacy of historical and enduring economic injustices. And because a basic income would make the decision to work more voluntary, women would no longer choose to remain in toxic jobs solely because they can’t afford not to. In this way, a UBI could address gender-based mistreatment in workplaces. By freeing women of their economic dependence on employers, a UBI would also improve women’s bargaining positions, enabling them to negotiate for more flexible hours or better conditions. ADVERTISEMENT inRead invented by Teads But a UBI would not discourage work to an extent that would undermine the economy. People would still need to work to afford most consumer goods and luxuries. And unlike minimum wage requirements, touted by Fight for $15 activists, a UBI neither raises the cost of employing low-income workers relative to other workers nor disproportionately burdens employers to provide a decent standard of living for people in their communities. With an even starting ground, the opportunities to move beyond the lowest-paying work could be more readily available to marginalized workers who’ve been left out for too long. Women Could Make Unfettered Decisions About How to Structure Their Families and Lives Child care is extraordinarily expensive, and women, especially single moms, end up shouldering an enormous burden for this cost. Some parents who would prefer to work are unable to because they cannot afford quality child care for their kids. Women are more likely to leave the workforce for this reason than men. A UBI for mothers and children would enable women who want to work to pay for child care. In addition, a UBI (including child benefits) would formally recognize and reward socially valuable labor that people currently perform outside of the paid economy, such as caregiving for children, disabled people, and elderly relatives. The UBI could amount to “wages for housework,” something feminists in the 1970s pushed for. Furthermore, because a UBI aims to pay all individuals and not households, it allows people to make decisions about marriage and cohabitation based their intrinsic desires, not based on tax policies such as the “marriage penalty” that working couples currently face or means-tested welfare programs that withhold benefits from women when their household income increases after marriage. A further benefit for families? With an added, guaranteed boost to their income, women in abusive relationships would have the financial security to leave, even if they lack qualifications or credentials that would enable them to support themselves and their families. UBI would do more than almost any other economic policy imaginable to make women less susceptible to abuse both in the workplace and at home. 3. Respect: Universal, Rather Than Targeted Assistance, Will Defy Stereotypes Historically, feminists not only critiqued outright sexism but also the paternalism of efforts to protect women from the world by robbing them of their autonomy. Paternalism has long been used to justify policies that limit women’s and other marginalized people’s choices, like bans on abortion, or sex work, or women working in dangerous industries, on the grounds that they are incapable of deciding for themselves how to live their lives. Today, many social policies in the U.S. are influenced by extremely paternalistic thinking that perpetuates discriminatory stereotypes about women’s abilities to make informed and reasonable decisions for themselves. inRead invented by Teads Conservative complaints about welfare recipients spending benefits on junk food and luxuries have been part of a more general racialized narrative, which has informed existing welfare policy and also perpetuated offensive and stigmatizing stereotypes about members of marginalized groups, especially women of color. But liberals who support limiting the provision of benefits to housing, food, and health care are subject to the same charges of paternalism when they advocate for in-kind benefit policies (such as food transfers and food vouchers) that perpetuate a politics of suspicion and mistrust, instead of supporting cash benefit programs. Most of the arguments against UBI also ring of paternalism. How could we trust that low-income women would use the money to do the things I’ve detailed here? Low-income people, like the rest of their fellow citizens, are generally the best judges of whether a profession or purchase is in their overall interest, and the evidence suggests that recipients of cash transfers generally spend their income on necessities. Trusting women and all people with the right to spend their money how they see fit, as UBI allows, would push back against decades of paternalistic social policy. UBI activists still disagree about whether UBI is a right or a benefit, whether it should be provided in addition to or instead of other benefits, and about how large the UBI should be. But the core case in favor of the UBI—that it has the potential to significantly alleviate poverty and liberate all citizens from many of the injustices associated with the current economic order—is a case that all feminists should get behind.

A UBI would be effective at confronting structural inequality created by the divide between the public and private sphere, where mean work outside the home in the “public” and earn wages that creates financial control, leaving women at risk of exploitation in the “private” sphere

Patricia Schulz, 2017, Global Social Policy, Universal basic income in a feminist perspective and gender analysis Schultz — CEDEF/CEDAW, Switzerland

A feminist perspective and a gender analysis – avoiding conflation of gender and women – can usefully contribute to the discussion on the universal basic income (UBI). Indeed, it helps analyse the concrete situation of women and of men, by looking into power relationships between them and structural discrimination based on sex, including multiple/intersectional discriminations.1 These contribute to making women and those they care for vulnerable to poverty with its various deprivations. Advocates of the UBI could thus reinforce their strong arguments based on social justice, equality, dignity, freedom from want if they argued (more) systematically also from a gender equality perspective.2 The UBI, if unconditional and at a level covering basic needs, would help tackle the structural inequalities inherited from the past, due to the sexual divide between the public and private sphere. Although the normative framework has improved in many countries of the North and South, and women’s education is now higher than men’s in a number of countries, in average, women still face de facto unequal chances of political, economic and social participation. Their educational efforts are not rewarded the same: the higher their education, the greater the gender pay gap – one of the most depressing statistics one can consider. A recent study on the discrimination experienced by women due to pregnancy and maternity in the United Kingdom shows how deeply discrimination is embedded in society and how it prevents an equal access to the world of work and equal chances in this world, even after decades of efforts, legal and practical, in one of the most advanced economies, to implement gender equality in this field.3 Feminist economists have for decades criticized mainstream economic theory for considering only remunerated work in the so-called production sector, and gross domestic product (GDP) still considers only this sector. Change occurs, there are now numerous publications and data in economic and social sciences addressing unpaid, care work and its relation to the various disadvantages women face. But even with this new approach and the almost general recognition that gender equality is key to economic development, care work remains mainly female. Even though satellite accounts give information on the value of reproductive work, it is still either not really considered as work if provided for free in the private sphere or, if it is provided against pay, in a work relationship, it is often poorly paid and considered. Reproductive work, mainly accomplished by women the world over, for free or very little money, thus remains steadfastly insufficiently addressed in practice in the labour market and legislation, as well as the homes of people.4 Women pay a high price for providing the largest part of care work in the home, as this limits the access or choices of girls to education and the access of women to paid work, deprives them of the autonomy that goes with an income and the protection of social security systems when one is in place, and thus exposes them to the risk of poverty and dependence. In industrialized countries, work organization, labour legislation and social security systems developed progressively based on the model of the male breadwinner. Therefore, as most social security systems are (still) based on contributions linked to remunerated work, independent or salaried, the inferior income of women, their restriction to part-time jobs as well as the interruptions in their careers due to care responsibilities will directly impact the level of social protection they can expect in case of old age, disability, illness and so on, as well as expose them to depend on a partner and/or the (welfare) state. Progressively, legislators in industrialized countries have attempted to correct the sexist bias contained in the social protection legislation, with its link to remunerated work. But the ‘original sin’ remains in a number of countries and it continues to penalize women. However, the rapid increase of the precariat exposes more and more men also, to deep gaps in social protection, if it continues to be principally or exclusively tied to remunerated work. Ken Loach’s film ‘I, Daniel Blake’ denounces the Kafkaian world in which people in need of support find themselves in a system that provokes their exclusion of benefits to which they were entitled and illustrates the abuses that the control system can produce. As women, especially heads of households, are exposed to a far higher degree than men to poverty, they also are more exposed to the stigmatization and marginalization provoked by poverty. An unconditional UBI would contribute to freeing them from this vulnerability and would respect their dignity. It could also help balance unequal power relationships with (male) relatives and/or partners. A UBI would help social security systems to keep up with the challenges they face: increase of inequality and persistence of gender inequality, recurring economic and financial crises, technological change and globalization and their effects on jobs (number and quality) and social protection,5 demographic evolution and migration patterns. It would also contribute to strengthening the social fabric, needed for the future of democracies.6 If they do not rapidly handle these challenges, and the fears created by them, democratic systems could lose their legitimacy7 with citizens no longer considering them capable to ensure a fair enough re-distribution of the fruits of increased productivity. Female citizens have a particular stake in the introduction of a UBI to maintain systems that respect their human rights and freedoms as, generally, authoritarian governments have quite restrictive views of women’s rights and gender equality. Many developing countries have established programmes for universal social protection, and some have shown that it is possible even in poor countries. ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ remains as true today as at the time the first social laws were adopted. But it remains a huge political challenge to overcome the resistance against delinking social protection and remunerated work, even when the latter tends to become more and more uncertain. The international legal framework on human rights can certainly be used to advocate for the introduction of a UBI, also in a gendered perspective, to all persons, at a level that covers their basic needs, with no conditionalities. International Labour Organization (ILO) Recommendation 202 of 2012 on social protection floors and the Sustainable Development Goals8 (SDGs) adopted in September 2015 by all member countries of the United Nations are important elements of soft law and/or political commitments9 completing the international human rights framework offered by articles 9, 11 and 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as well as articles 11, 12, 13 and 14 of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and of course the Universal Declaration on Human Rights articles 3, 22, 23 and 25. Social protection and care are mentioned in three of the SDGs: ending poverty (no. 1), reducing inequality (no. 2) and reaching gender equality (no. 5). In addition, Goal 17 on governance could also be used. It remains to be seen whether the SDGs give the necessary impetus for States to implement the human rights norms that most of them have ratified but that many violate or ignore far too often. A UBI would be the continuation of the previous efforts to ensure that every person has a right to basic economic security, everywhere on the planet, women as well as men. A UBI would thus be part of an emancipatory politics for all, linking economic security to all other human rights including gender equality, and ensuring every person the dignity and personal calm of having enough to provide for their basic needsIt would be of historical significance that human beings not born rich could benefit from this security and that those unable to be in the labour market, formal or informal (or only in reduced fashion), would also benefit from it. Again, in view of the present level of gender inequality in certain parts of the world, women and their dependents have a lot to gain from such a change. The UBI would be the logical evolution of all previous social security measures. It can be transformative, as is hoped for with the Agenda 2013 on the SDGs. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity.

A “just government” supports intervention into this private sphere in order to protect the interests of women. A libertarian, hands-off approach allows men to reap the benefits of the public “market” while leaving women oppressed in the private sphere

Cohen & Obrien, law professors, 1997, Professor, Luter School of Business, Christopher Newport University,   Newport News, VA ([email protected]) ** Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada ([email protected]), Can Y OU hEaR mE nOW…gOOD!” FEminism(s), ThE PUbliC/PRiva TE DiviDE, anD Citizens United v. FeC

What the public-private distinction means in context diverges widely within and between disciplines. 12 Feminist traditions are no different and it is certainly beyond the scope of this essay to offer a thorough accounting of scholarship in the area. We do, however, ob- serve that the dichotomy itself has ancient roots in Western thought as a “binary opposition that is used to subsume a wide range of other important distinctions and that attempts…to dichotomize the social universe in a comprehensive and sharply demarcated way.” 13 As Joan Landes notes: Feminists did not invent the vocabulary of public and private, which in ordinary language and political tradi- tion have been intimately linked. The term ‘public’ sug- gests the opposite of ‘private’: that which pertains to the people as a whole, the community, the common good, things open to sight, and those things that are acces- sible and shared by all. Conversely, ‘the private’ signifies something closed and exclusive, as in the admonition ‘Private property—no trespassing’. 14 From a legal standpoint, privacy manifests itself as a boundary which the law (and its agents) cannot cross absent special circum- stances. The contexts in which this boundary exists are numer family law where judges have historically been reluctant to inter – fere with the relationships among family members, 15 personal re- productive decisions where courts have carved out a zone of pri- vacy into which the government’s authority may not enter, 16 and personal spaces which are not subject to government search absent a warrant or other public necessity. 17 The public/private distinction also creates a boundary be- tween government and the private sector of business, capital and markets. In this latter configuration, the reach of government, through law and regulation, is limited in its ability to affect trans- actions. Similarly, the judiciary classically takes a ‘hands-off’ ap- proach to what market participants do by refusing, for example, to evaluate the fairness of a bargain. 18 Frances Olsen characterized these different contexts in which the privacy boundary exists as the market/family dichotomy which separates the public world of work and commerce from the private world of the home, and the state/ civil society dichotomy that distinguishes the state from the rest of the society-public, including individuals and nongovernmental groups. 19 Darren Rosenblum depicts Olsen’s analysis in the follow – ing way: 20 In this model, the market is part of the public sphere while the fam- ily is the chief inhabitant of the private sphere. But the market is also represented with the family as a non-state entity. This is an important development in illustrating that the market’s reach in both the public and private spheres. According to Rosenblum the “use of ‘public/private’ suggests the dichotomy between state and non-state actors, as well as the market and the family.” 21 Speaking generally, feminist jurisprudence rejected the public/ private boundary as an acceptable rationale for legal action or inac- tion. 22 Feminists argued that in a great many situations, the bound ary disadvantages women and the institutions with which women are traditionally associated—such as the family—and privileges the group holding the most power in society, namely, white men, and the institutions they control: business organizations. This criticism of the dichotomy applied to both the market/family and the state/ civil society constructs. In response to these insights, feminism(s) historically sought to break down the public/private divide in order to enhance scrutiny of the treatment of women. As Weintraub sum- marizes the matter, feminist challenges to the public/private divide traditionally included at least three overlapping arguments: One is that the conceptual orientations of much social and political theory have ignored the domestic sphere or treated it as trivial. The second is that the public/ private distinction itself is often deeply gendered, and in almost uniformly invidious ways. It very often plays a role in ideologies that purport to assign men and women to different spheres of social life on the basis of their ‘natural’ characteristics and thus to confine women to positions of inferiority. The third is that, by classifying institutions like the family as ‘private’. . . the public/pri- vate distinctions often serve to shield abuse and domi- nation within these relationships from political scrutiny or legal redress. 23 Indeed, some feminists—most notably Catherine MacKin- non—called for an end to the separation of public and private. 24 Associating the private realm with oppression, MacKinnon clearly stated: “This is why feminism has had to explode the private. This is why feminism has seen the personal as the political. The private is public for those for whom the personal is political. In this sense, for women there is no private, either normatively or empirically.” 25 As Ruth Gavison notes, for this strand of feminism, the aphorism that “the personal is the political” challenged the very existence of two distinct spheres. Within this context, Gavison observes: The “personal” should not be allowed to stop con- versations, critique, or accountability; the “personal” should not be seen as an improper theme for concern and possible public interference. It is against this back- ground of this interpretation of “personal” that the slo- gan [“the personal is political”] should be understood . . . [For example,] [w]hen women are battered at home, it is not because each particular victim has triggered an un- fortunate “individual” tragedy. . . . Social structures are involved, social structures which are not simply “natu- ral.” They are person-made, and they benefit males. 26 The idea is that the boundary between public and private cannot be drawn because, as Jean Cohen sums up this strand, such boundaries work to “exclud[e], denigrat[e], and dominat[e]. . . those designated as ‘different’” 27 from the white, heterosexual male baseline.

We need to reverse the protection of the male interest by the government

Privileging masculinity without recognizing the linkages between different types of violence makes women’s oppression, war and domestic violence inevitable

Jill Steans, Senior Lecturer in International Relations Theory , Department of Political Science and International Studies, University of Birmingham, Gender and International Relations: An Introduction, 1998 p. 101-102

Radical feminists claim that so long as the privileging of mas­culinity is inherent in the political system women will face the consequences, while at the same time being seen as part of the ‘innocent’, the ‘weak’ and the ‘protected’. As such, ‘war’ for women will be inherent in the system. In this view, to continue to draw an absolute distinction between war and other forms of male violence without recognizing the linkages obscures the real problem, which is patriarchy. The links between domestic violence and war go deeper than soldiers, brutalized by their experiences, beat­ing their wives. Rather, there is an intricate relationship between the construction of masculinity and patriotism and violence. War and domestic violence are, in a symbolic but still meaningful sense, linked. Many radical feminist thinkers involved in the peace movement believe that the insights that arise from women’s particular rela­tion to violence mean that issues of war, peace and security can be approached from a feminist standpoint. That is, the particular experiences of women can be used as a point of departure from which to construct an understanding of violence that makes gen­der central to the explanation, not because of women’s ‘tradi­tional roles’ or ‘essential biology’, but because women stand in a relationship to violence which is unique among oppressed groups. Feminist peace activists claim that for women the ‘oppres­sors’ are found among immediate family or lovers, and that terror for women is the quiet pervasive ordinary terror which happens in the home.100 In this view, not only is war part of women’s daily existence, but war, violence and women’s oppression all grow from the same root. Military institutions and states are inseparable from patriar­chy. War is not then, as realists and neo-realists would hold, rooted in the nature of ‘man’ or the anarchy of the international realm. However, the hegemony of a dominance-orientated mascu­linity sets the dynamics of the social relations in which aare forced to participate. Some feminists argue that patriarchal soci­eties have an inherent proclivity towards war because of the su­preme value placed on control and the natural male tendency towards displays of physical force.101 Though primarily concerned with the discourse of war, politics and citizenship, Hartsock argues that the association of power with masculinity and virility has very real consequences. She argues that ‘it gives rise to a view of community both in theory and in fact obsessed with the revenge and structured by conquest and domination’102 Furthermore, ac­cording to Hartsock, the opposition of man to woman and per­haps even man to man is not simply a transitory opposition of arbitrary interests, but an opposition resting on a deep-going threat to existence. She argues that we re-encounter in the con­text of gender, as in class, the fact that the experience of the ruling group, or gender, cannot be simply dismissed as false.103 This raises the question of how we conceptualize and understand not only the ‘patriarchal state’, but also the relationship between the patriarchal nation-state requiring in the context of competi­tive struggle with other states militarism and internal hierarchy.’04